[Note this covers time between the events in the cave and the current date, FS542-10-03, or about 2 months; also see Broken Man chapter below]
Justinius was dismayed when he learned there was another bard in Nameless with the same name. “What are the chances?! And whoever heard of a halfling named Justinius? That’s been a gnomish name for millenia.” Regardless Justinius, the gnomish bard/ranger/dragon disciple, certainly couldn’t tolerate the indignity of sharing his name and an assassination team was quickly dispatched. “It’ll be a great opportunity to test some of our new guild recruits!”, he remembered thinking as he sent them off. When the team found his namesake in a compromising position with a horse, Justinius considered framing the murder as a terrible bestiality incident gone wrong, but Cora fortunately disabused him of the notion. “Do you really want your name associated with that? I thought that was the whole point of this operation- so that your name would be yours alone.” The crafty seductress was right. In Nameless, a simple disappearance was unremarkable enough. Not everything needed to be clouded in deception.
Deception. Keep your enemies guessing. Justinius and his cohorts had been hard at work since organizing their new guild to cover their tracks. First, there was the matter with the Crimson Fleet. Couldn’t have them spending too much time wondering how the mercenaries they had hired had been so mysteriously replaced. Fortunately, Nameless provided many potential storylines to provide an answer. You just have to plant the stories in the right place. Don’t make the information too easy to come by. Make them work for it. That way they’ll think they’ve really got something. There were rumors circulating around the docks regarding an evil priest and a bugbear running from the law over some nasty rape allegations in the countryside. They needed a way off the island. Elsewhere people were talking about a prostitute on the run from her pimp and a bard who had slept with the wrong man’s wife. Perhaps this motley crew had stepped in for this mercenary team to get away from Nameless for a while without going through any of the customary channels? Frogdor turned out to be very useful in leaving a rowboat and other evidence of a secret landing party on the rocky shores of the Tide’s secret base. A bugbear framed and hung for rape in North Rock and a pimp murdered, apparently by the hand of one of his whores, completed the story. One returned too soon, another got her revenge. And as a bonus, one of Cora’s biggest competitors in West Rim was eliminated. Hopefully the ruse was sufficient to satisfy their curiosity.
The dwarves were another story. Justinius felt like an idiot for having missed the possibility of dwarves from Dusaro returning to find their home in ruins. At least those two were dead now, along with their mysterious companions. But, aye, there was the rub! Who were they really? Interrogation had revealed nothing that could be trusted. Were they lying about being from the dwarven kingdom? And if they were, what did Deepforge know and how had they learned it? When Justinius had heard the clamor behind him and turned to find An’Drow clutching his stomach he developed a knot in his gut and it remained, even after the dwarves had been subdued. Thankfully the two from Dusaro had turned on one another during the battle. What a couple of clowns. With the cleric temporarily disabled, that might have been a tough fight, but with Justinius singing hell’s own fury and Bigby swinging that massive Warhammer it didn’t last long. At least they got the gold. It had been some work to track it down since the dwarves weren’t carrying it, but they had found it eventually in the care of a poor (now dead) dwarven shopkeeper. Small comfort for the knowledge that an entire dwarven kingdom might have sworn a blood oath to find and kill them.
Time to burnish their reputation in Nameless then, at least. Justinius has spent some time singing and performing in the taverns. He sang many tales, including some about the fearsome red dragon that used to haunt Nameless, the devastation it wreaked on the dwarven civilization at Dusaro and the mysterious heroes who had finally slain the terrible beast. There were only two bards in Nameless with greater skill. A superb fiddler played in North Rock and an amazing juggler hurled firey swords around the high and low places of West Rim. But Justinius was not above making up for the discrepancy with tricks of his own. Each night several villagers who witnessed his performance would go home with the remarkable urge to tell their friends of the amazing performace they had witnessed. Having a great name as a performer is better in some ways than being a great performer.
“Justinius, the candidates for guild membership are ready for your review!” He was interrupted in his musings by his assistant who had just sprung into his office. “Knock next time, huh? Let them wait. I’ll be there shortly.” Growing the guild had been the most work by a far margin. Justinius had been focused on recruiting clerics and wizards. Clerics, even relatively weak ones, could be great at helping out in tough battles. And the guild needed more spellcaster in its ranks. Plus, they were necessary to build Justinius’ pet project of a guild store with scrolls, potions and other magical items available at cost for guild operations. And to accumulate an appropriate stockpile for the fortress they were building at Dusaro, working the stone to improve the defenses at the entry way and the passage to Amun while adding secret entrances for sentries to get in and out unnoticed. But finding new recruits was not easy as the new guild did not have much a reputation around town and operations were hampered by the disruption created by the guild reorganization. At least Montagu had been doing great work organizing trade with the mindflayer. It wasn’t a huge amount of money, but it was enough to meet payroll at least.
By: Matt, 05/12/12